As we welcome in 2017 after a hard year, our readers share their reasons to be hopeful
It was the late, great musician Leonard Cohen who said: There is a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in. After a tough 2016, it feels more important than ever to look for light at the start of a new year.
We asked readers what is bringing them hope right now. This is what they said
A growing sense of engagement
There is a sense of engagement emerging:conversations about the state of the world are taking place between people who would not normally talk about these issues. We are being given a collective wake-up call to take notice and to take action and we are beginning to answer that call.
Nicky Marshall, France
The younger generation
My grown-up children give me hope, as do many of the younger generation, because they have a social conscience and are politically active. The future looks less bleak when I listen to their robust debates and attend protests, marches or meetings in which they are involved. Knowing that some of the next generation actually care gives me immense hope.
Acts of human kindness
In spite of all the gloom that surrounds us at the moment, my optimism for the future lies in the many acts of human kindness that I see and hear about. Im not referring to those who make the headlines but the many and varied examples of decency and humanity that surround us all if we care to look and listen. It would perhaps help our sense of hope if the media was to focus a little more on these stories rather than the unrelenting diet of despair they seem to favour.
Developing technology to address inequality
New technologies, and the kinds of communication and collaboration they allow, make it more feasible than it has ever been to put in place new, more equitable and sustainable socio-economic systems allowing people to live fuller, freer lives. We may have been unable, so far, to fix many of the problems that have made our economies and democratic systems so unequal and inefficient, but as those systems eat themselves at an accelerating rate we have the ideas and the technology to fill the gaps with ones that objectively work far better. We need to be moving in the direction of greater co-operation, more economic security and more sustainable energy sources and the sorts of steps we need to take to achieve that are becoming very clear, even if most of our politicians refuse to see it.
Fergus Murray, Edinburgh
I married for the second time in July. This love made the pain of the breakup of my first marriage worth going through. However dark things may be, the light never truly goes out, we endure.
In some respects 2016 was a landmark year for environmental success stories. Some species have seen an upturn in their fortunes. Take tigers, for example: their numbers are now increasing for the first time since efforts to conserve them began. The World Wide Fund for Nature has also removed giant pandas from the endangered species list. Whats more, China has vowed to ban all domestic ivory trade and processing by the end of 2017. There are still lots of problems, of course, but we have to celebrate these victories when they come along. They should make us more hopeful about the future.
The possibilities of the unknown
Seventeen years ago I demanded my psychiatrist give me a reason to continue living. His reply the sun will come up tomorrow. He was right: terrible things do happen, but life is amazing and unpredictable. We dont know what tomorrow may bring and thats a good thing too. We can learn from the past, we can discover what is truly precious and we can live our lives in the light of that. The future is not already written and in any situation that is the real reason not to despair. We can learn from the past and that is the real reason not to despair
My new niece
Im not the maternal type, but looking into her new eyes this Christmas so full of hope and un-jaded by the world I think I saw the meaning of hope: a blank canvas.
This year might have been turbulent politically, but we live in some of the most peaceful times the world has known. With advances in medicine there are fewer diseases than ever before and were living longer than we ever have. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in the news, and thats stressful when these arent things we can change. Its actually been a brilliant year on a personal level for many people I know, and although the world will always have its problems, gratitude for the good things, however small, will keep things balanced. Our political problems (Brexit and Trump) seem to stem from lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, and feelings of division. So in my mind, the best thing we can do is club together and concentrate on being good to each other.
Sophie Bailey, Bristol
The constancy of pets
This may sound absurd but what gives me hope for the new year is the constancy of pets. Whether its raining, whether Donald Trump is president, whether the economy is on shaky grounds, your pet still looks to you with loyalty and affection.
In 2016 I adopted an abandoned kitten from the RSPCA, joining about 50,000 others who rehomed unwanted pets last year. Every day she puts a smile on my face and reminds me that there is a simpler life behind the barrage of news headlines. Pets live in the here and now and the kitten reminds me to be mindful of the moment rather than get swept away with the anxious speculation of the what-ifs and the could-bes. When I sit still and stroke her, as I hear her purrs increase and see her stretch out and visibly relax, I feel grounded in hope for whatever life may bring my way.
My health gives me hope for the year ahead. I spent 2016 recovering from a year-long episode of psychosis which had culminated in hospitalisation and the near-breakdown of my marriage. With the help and support and kindness of NHS staff, my parents, my husband and other good people I have made a full recovery. I now take life a bit slower and Im more careful with my daily choices but most of all I am so grateful to have my good health back.
Although I sometimes get frustrated and wonder why it happened, I am strangely less concerned with what other people may think of me now and I realise how fortunate I am with every blessing in my life, none more so than having good people around and good mental health.
Rebecca, from the East Midlands